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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

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By December, every Polish Division which was created, possessed on an
average,, forty rifles between ten thousand men, and, in order to keep in
training, these men were compelled to drill with home-made dummy
wooden rifles. The Soviet Government made a formal declaration to the
effect that it was unable to provide armaments for the Poles and this in spite
of having so much booty from Poland in 1939. The amount of weapons
taken on that occasion had been enumerated by Molotov in his speech at
the Supreme Council of the U.S.S.R. on October 3ist,1939—the Russians
had taken 300 planes, 900 guns, 10,000 machine guns, 300,000 rifles,
1,300,000 artillery shells and a great deal of other military equipment.
This amount would have sufficed at any rate in the beginning., to equip the
Polish Army in Russia. The Polish Government could not produce the
necessary armaments in the space of a few weeks or even months for this
army from any other source. In that autumn and winter 1941, neither
Great Britain nor the U.S.A. had sufficient for their own requirements.
The supplies of armaments sent by the British to the Middle East and
intended for the Polish Army in Russia never reached its destination. An
urgent necessity for armaments in Burma had arisen owing to the crisis,
and this supply was diverted there. It seemed that only Russia, who had
exclusively manufactured weapons during the thrice-repeated c piatiletka *
(five year plan) possessed arms in what appeared to be an unlimited
quantity. But the Soviets had no wish to supply these Polish forces.
Meanwhile the Polish authorities were beginning to experience an in-
creasing anxiety. The privates were finding their way back in consider-
able numbers to the headquarters, but very few officers had so far made
an appearance. Where were they? The question was on everyone's
lips. As each succeeding day passed in the Polish camps, this anxiety
deepened and the silence grew more ominous. " Could it be possible
that all had perished ? " General Anders now had his troops but no
officers and very few N.C.Os.—and no information as to their whereabouts.
On the steppe lands near Saratov and Samara (Kuibyshev), somewhere
near the Volga river, the first camps of the Polish Army—Tockoje,
Tatisjistshevo had sprung up. The Army Headquarters were in Buzuhik,
400 kilometres (250 miles) from Tatishtschevo—a great distance when
taking into consideration tie devastation of the Russian railway system.
In fact, under the existing circumstances, it took from four to eleven
days to cover the distance. Travelling by car was only safe if a
compass was used, for there were hundreds of trails in the snow to mislead
the driver. The first snows fell in September and then an intense
cold settled over the land. A few barracks in the summer camps were
assigned to the Polish Army. These had to be the headquarters, hospitals
and kitchens, while the people themselves were obliged to live in tents.
When the Poles began to arrive at Tatishtschevo
*c there was no food ... no equipment... no telephone communication
with the nearest Russian military centre at Saratov. The railway station